Lander School District struggles with swimming pool costs as City opts out of current agreement

(Lander, Wyo.) – The Fremont County School District 1 Board of Education is currently exploring ideas for ways to decrease costs and increase revenues for the swimming pool, especially now that the City of Lander has bowed out of the current agreement.

“Due to budget restraints for the coming fiscal year, we are not prepared to renew the existing Swimming Pool Agreement,” Mayor Mick Wolfe wrote to the district in a letter dated May 28. “We are extremely sorry for this turn of events but look forward to meeting with the Administration to figure out how we can help out financially to some degree.”

In recent years, the city has paid $52,000 annually to the district, Superintendent Mike Bowman told trustees at Tuesday night’s board meeting. Bowman reports that operating costs for the swimming pool is $568,000, but in the 2012-13 Fiscal Year only $132,000 of revenue came in from the facility.

Bowman said 70 percent of the pool’s usage is for non-school purposes, such as lane swimming, open swimming, and preschool swim lessons.

Bruce Gresly, swimming pool manager, reportedly told the board that when the pool was originally built, the agreement was for the City and the school district to split the cost of operating the pool evenly since the City did not have the means to build the pool, and the school district was able to bond in order to build the pool. However, over time, the amount contributed by the city was reduced to the annual $52,000.

Bowman said ideas being considered are: reducing the number of times that lap and open swimming are offered during the week, increasing admission fees, increasing the cost of swimming lessons, and providing some of the revenue from the lease of the Hudson School to the swimming pool account.

The city had reportedly offered to give the district money set aside for renovating restrooms at North Park, which was required when the skate park was approved. Trustees decided that money should remain for the restroom.

Trustee Joe Palladino reportedly suggested the city could provide the water for the pool. Trustee Dave Clark said that its hard for the district to justify paying $468,000 a year from the general fund for recreational activities.

Bowman and Business Manager Travis Sweeney are expected to continue to work with the city on potential solutions.